Mike's Astro Photos

Tag: Meteor Update

Oct.02 2009

Newly Acquired Meteor Video

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

This video shows a shadow that is cast from a flag pole caught in the light of the Mason Dixon Meteor on July 6th 2009. This is certainly the best shadow video we have acquired yet. The tall flag pole casts a long shadow and mutliple frames of movement were captured. If you would like to know more information about this video or watch the high res version please email me at mike.hankey [at] gmail.com.

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Sep.03 2009

Front Page News

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

Lancaster County paper had a front page news story about the meteorite hunt:

http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/241689

I’ve already gotten some really great leads from the article. If anyone out there from Lancaster knows anything or wants to help, please leave me a comment on the blog or email me : mike.hankey [AT] gmail.com

Thanks!

Mike

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Aug.23 2009

Another Meteor Dream

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

I had another meteor dream last night. We had found the meteor. Scientists determined the fall was part of a large comet that would collide with Earth on its next pass. Bruce Willis was in it. It was pretty cool.

This picture came in on a comment after I made this post. The pic was so good, I had to promote it to the front page.

Meteor Dream

Meteor Dream

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Aug.22 2009

Blue & Yellow Zone Maps

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

I’m gonna cut this series short one night, do a combo and post the last 2 maps. Its late and I had a long day in the field searching the sides of roads and talking to farmers and locals. I’m going back tomorrow so I have to get some rest. I will update this post later with the sector detail maps.

While the strewn field map does not have any markers in the blue zone or yellow zone, they are still worth searching and contacting landowners in this area is also a top priority. The blue zone especially could be good as the meteor path crosses it. The yellow zone is west of the current trajectory, so it is slightly lower priority, but should nothing turn up in the other areas this will be next on the list. Landowner contact in the yellow zone is also a top priority.

Mason Dixon Meteor - Blue Zone Map

Mason Dixon Meteor - Blue Zone Map

Mason Dixon Meteor - Yellow Zone

Mason Dixon Meteor - Yellow Zone

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Aug.21 2009

Red Zone Map

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

Here is the map for the red zone.

Mason Dixon Meteor - Red Zone Map

Mason Dixon Meteor - Red Zone Map

The scarecrow in this map represents the 10g marker. It has been suggested that the best place to find meteorites would be inbetween the 10g and 100g markers (100g is in the orange zone). Meteorites in this size range (10g-100g) would be the most plentiful and therefor the easiest to find. These markers are only as good as the calculations which are estimates, so while it is suggested these are the ‘target areas’ there is a margin of error and in reality it could be a few clicks the other way. Contacting all land owners and searching all areas in all 5 of these zones and possibly more zones will be required. Unfortunately its not as easy as going to the exact location marked on a treasure map. Treasure maps are still fun though.

Red Zone - Sectors A, B, C

Red Zone - Sectors A, B, C

Red Zone - Sector D

Red Zone - Sector D

I will be in the search area Friday and Saturday, if you are interested in hunting together send me an email.

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Aug.20 2009

Orange Zone Map

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

Here is the second map in a series of five — The Orange Zone.

Mason Dixon Meteor - Search Zone Orange

Mason Dixon Meteor - Search Zone Orange

The Orange Zone is special because it contains three markers from Marc Fries strewn field map. These markers should not be intended to be an x-marks the spot indicator (trust me I’ve been to them already). They are simply a calculated estimate based on lots of assumptions. They indicate an area where these sized meteorites would be found (if they existed in the first place) and all assumptions were true. With that being said the markers are:

  • Dead Tree = 10,000g
  • Man Eating Carp = 1,000g
  • Cross Roads = 100g

Here are the high zoom maps for the four sub sections.

Orange Zone - Sector A

Orange Zone - Sector A

Orange Zone - Sector B

Orange Zone - Sector B

There is a stream that runs through the middle of the orange zone. In sector A, I saw a big black rock sitting in the middle of the stream. I’m going to walmart to get some black waders before my next outing. I must admit I have already pulled a 30lb black rock out of the stream, turn out to be terrestrial (no I didn’t bring it home with me).

Orange Zone - Sector C

Orange Zone - Sector C

Orange Zone - Sector D

Orange Zone - Sector D

I recommend printing all of the maps and drawing on them with a pen or pencil. Shade in areas you’ve searched. Write notes on the back about land owners and number the notes to the keyed houses on the master maps. I’ve noticed the farmers really love to see their properties on these maps. Use the zoomed in satellite sector maps when talking to the farmers, I’m not sure how they would interpret the skull and cross bones on the pirate maps… Its a little scary :)

If you are serious about searching and talking with the landowners email me (mike.hankey [AT] gmail.com) and I can give you some tips and set you up with some information packets and other things.

Most of these roads have not been thoroughly searched. If you don’t want to deal with asking for permission, check the ditches and grass on the sides of roads.

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Aug.19 2009

New Mason Dixon Meteor Video

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

Star witness turned star fireball chaser M Gaines has recovered another video of the Mason Dixon Meteor. We cannot publish any details about its location however we can say it was in-between the eastern edge of Lancaster City and the current Rob Matson drop zone. If you are working the trajectory and I know who you are I can confidentially give you the details through email. If you don’t have my email leave a comment. Early analysis of this video confirm the current search location.

The video is very difficult to make out, what you are seeing is the reflection of the meteor on the hood of a truck. You have to watch the video 5-10 times to really see it. Look in the top right corner.

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Aug.19 2009

Green Zone Detail Map

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

Here is the first map set in a new five part series. I will post one map each night for the next five nights starting tonight.

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Search Map (Click To Enlarge)

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Search Map (Click To Enlarge)

Here are zoomed maps for each of the three sub sections in the green zone.

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Sector A

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Sector A

On the detailed map we have:

- labeled all roads and identified landmarks
- where possible marked parking locations
- indicated the meteor path and altitude
- sectioned the map into logical sub-zones a, b, c
- identified and numbered all of the land owners. This numbering system is cross referenced against a database I developed using the Lancaster land records that are available online. I know the property owners name, the amount of acreage and any notes regarding meetings with the property owners and in some cases pictures of the properties.

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Sector B

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Sector B

- where relevant placed clues that indicate key locations in the strewn map field. these markers are not meant to be exact X marks the spot indicators, rather they pin-point an area where certain sized meteorites would likely fall based on the current trajectory. There are 6 markers in the map series, ranging from 10,000g, 1,000g, 100g, 10g, 1g, .1g. This in no way suggests that a 10kg meteorite exists! It simply means that if a 10kg meteorite did exist it would be in this general area. The reality is the trajectory is not 100% perfect so a thorough search of the entire area is needed, but it is recommended to target these specific areas first. I will leave pretty obvious clues in the blog posts that will tip you off to what markers are what.

If you are hunting the meteorites or want to I recommend printing these maps in landscape mode and then drawing on them as you search areas. Essentially scribble on areas that you have searched. Also take notes on the back of the map especially if you talk to land owners. Try to record as much info as possible, their names, addresses, what crops and fields they have, when these fields will be cut / available for searches. I am working with several people on this and they are feeding back their search maps and information to me so I can update the search database. If you want to share your information with send me an email at mike.hankey [AT] gmail.com.

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Sector C

Mason Dixon Meteor - Green Zone Sector C

As I was marking up the maps adding information and notations I couldn’t help feeling like I was making a treasure map, so after I finished enhancing one of them I sent it to my friend Vincent from Paris (A photoshop wizard — guy responsible for Mike Hankey Captain Kirk picture and Mason Dixon Meteor simulation video.) I asked him to give it a treasure map feel. As always he blew me away. I hope you like it. Meteorite hunting is a lot more fun when you ave a treasure map in your hand. Bravo Vincent vous êtes le meilleur.

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Aug.18 2009

Meteor Search Quick Update August 18th, 2009

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

mason-dixon-meteor

Its out there.

Here is a quick update on a few different meteor related things:

- Star witness turned fireball chaser, M Gaines has been working the field looking for security videos and he has just found one! I talked to M Gaines tonight and he told me about the video. It is not a direct capture, instead a reflection from a large truck’s windshield. The video comes from a secure location and proper sign off is required to release the video. M Gaines watched the video and after analyzing the information he concluded the video supports the current search location. Gaines was focusing on finding videos between the location where he witnessed the fireball and the current estimated drop zone. I will post the video once it becomes available.
- July 5th, 2009 satellite imagery has been ordered.
- Aerial survey date tentatively set for mid next week. Working on flight plan, GPS programming and camera/equipment acquisition. All leading meteorite experts believe this fireball was a ‘standard fall’ and did not leave any significant impact craters that would be visible from 100-200 feet in the air.
- Jeff from Coopersburg, PA wrote me today and tipped me off to the department inside the Air Force that captures, tracks and sometimes shares fireball data. I called them today and talked to someone on the first try. The person I spoke to was very nice, was familiar with what I was talking about and gave me the name and number for the Sergeant in charge of this (I left him a voice mail). I tried to follow up with an email, but I couldn’t get their online form to work, so I wrote him a letter and fedex’d it to him today.
- I’m working on new detailed maps of the search zones. The maps include marked and named roads, identified and numbered properties, land marks and estimated areas for different sized meteorites (based on Marc Fries strewn field map).   I have downloaded all of the land records for this area so I have pretty good data on who and where the land owners are. I’ve also already met and talked to about 15 of them. All of them have been incredibly nice and helpful. I will be posting the maps once they are ready.
- I’ve hired a writer friend of mine to do PR work. She will be putting out some direct mailers to land owners, businesses and churches in the area. She will also be trying to get the Lancaster news paper and other smaller town newspapers to run new stories about the meteorite search.
- I should be in the area talking to land owners and looking around 1-2 times this week/weekend.
- I added an Asteroids video game widget to the right sidebar of the blog. Click yes on the legal terms and conditions to go back to the 80s.
- My back is feeling much better (about 90%), thanks for caring :)

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    Aug.17 2009

    Mobile Command Center?

    by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

    I got this picture from my wife today with the text:

    “Mobile Meteor Headquarters?”

    Mobile Meteor Headquarters

    Mobile Meteor Headquarters

    This was kind of a surprise. Thanks for the support honey! This should work, but we’ll need to paint it black and air brush a Darth Vadar on there :)

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    Aug.15 2009

    Satellite Imagery Update

    by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

    Satellite Imager

    Satellite Imager

    I continued my discussions with the satellite imagery company today and basically said: “what is it going to take to get new pictures of the target area in Lancaster quickly?” The sales guy said:

    “Honestly it is a very very very random thing to have data from one day before you need it.  A satellite can only see a given location about every five days; for every location it can see, it can only image well less than 1% of the total area.  If you put this all together, you have about a 0.1% chance of getting an image of any given location inside the US in one year.”

    With that being said, what are the chances that you would have the whole requested area photographed 1 day before the requested date!? 0.1% / 365 =

    1 in 2.73972603 × 10-6????? = IMPOSSIBLE!

    What are the chances of taking a picture of a fireball meteor through a telescope?

    IMPOSSIBLE!

    What are the chances of a jack ass backyard astronomer turned meteorite hunter finding meteorites in the cornfields of Amish Pennsylvania?

    IMPOSSIBLE!

    I see a theme developing here.

    Lancaster Corn Maze - Great Fun For the Family!

    Lancaster Corn Maze - Great Fun For the Family!

    The July 5th images are incredible and that is a done deal, but I need images after July 6th. If I can find them I will have a perfect before and after comparison. I asked the guy if he could expedite my request if I paid a little more $$$. He said:

    “You can pay more for higher priority but typically it is weather that is more important.  You might get lucky and get the data in one week with a new collection – you might get unlucky and not get it in 1 year.  There is no way to control this.  You could pay for rush which gives you the next access over the location, but if the data has 100% cloud cover you still have to pay $10,000!!!”

    Regarding magnetic anomaly surveys he said:

    “Magnetic sensors exist but is costs about $20,000 to put one up on an airplane and survey an area.”

    My meteorite advisers have told me that a magnetic survey of this sort would only detect iron meteorites and not the more common types of meteorite. They also said the mass would have to be 1 ton to get picked up on a magnetic anomaly survey. In essence they have told me there is no chance of a magnetic survey picking up meteorites.

    I asked this satellite guy to tell me all of his competitors so I could ask them if they had more recent photos, he said:

    “I work with all high resolution color satellites (i.e. 80-cm resolution or better) that exist in the world.  You are welcome to check with other resellers but at this time there is no data over this location.  We are a top 3 reseller in the US market and I assure you that what I am telling you is the truth.”

    Bell Helicopter

    Bell Helicopter

    Personally, despite what the meteorite experts tell me, I think having full satellite imagery over the target area one day before the event happened has some value… well above and beyond the data available on google earth. (the smartest people in the world disagree with me on this).

    I believe comparing this ‘before’ data to fresh data will have value. If nothing results from it, it is one less thing I have to think about or consider. If I didn’t do it I would second guess myself to death.

    Simultaneously to the satellite information requests I contacted Lancaster Helicopter about doing an aerial survey of the area. They are trained in this art and their location is less than 2 miles away from the target area (go figure). I have contracted them to record roughly 50 square kilometers, this is about 2x the area Rob Matson and Marc Fries have targeted. The survey should take place in 1.5 weeks.

    MTB - Best Bank In Maryland & Pennsylvania

    MTB - Best Bank In Maryland & Pennsylvania

    I had a meeting today with a few VPs from M&T Bank. The meeting had nothing to do with the meteor, but they were following the story and of course it came up in conversation. I told them they could sponsor the Mason Dixon Meteor, they could put a MTB magnet on the helicopter when we survey the area. They were down with it. It will probably happen.Thanks Michele!

    I blew out my back last night setting up my telescope. The last time I had turned the thing on was 7/11 (another cosmic number (love them big bites)). My back is killing me right now. There is no way I’m making it out to the field this weekend. No matter, I’m focusing on the intelligence war right now. I think the back injury is a sign from God telling me to slow down.

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    Aug.14 2009

    Custom Satellite Imagery

    by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

    I contacted a commercial satellite company and asked them if they had recent images of the Mason Dixon Meteor estimated crash area. I gave them the coordinates and told them I needed images that were taken on or after July 6th (the day the meteor crashed). They wrote me back and said they had images that were taken on July 5th! That is a very weird coincidence. I can’t believe they missed it by one day. At the same time, I think this could be a sign and potentially very valuable. If I could find another satellite imagery company that happened to have images from after July 6th I would have super fresh before and after photos. If there was any sort of impact crater (which is possible with a basket ball sized meteorite that still has some cosmic velocity) it might show up on these photos.

    I’m ordering the July 5th photos so I have them as they will still provide me with value. I can also do a custom shoot from the satellite but they are saying it will take 1-2 months to acquire. If there were visible signs there is a much greater chance they would be gone in another 2 months, plus I can’t wait that long.

    If you know of any good custom satellite image companies please let me know through a comment.

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    Aug.12 2009

    Alternate Impact Point Re-Surfaces

    by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

    I got an email today from a meteorite enthusiast named George. George disputed the authenticity of my meteor picture. He suggested the following at the conclusion of a lengthy unresolved debate.

    My suggestion though is to not use your photo for any source of finding a strewnfield. I think you would have better luck in the long run.

    When I got home I emailed Dirk Ross (Tokyo) from Lunar Meteorite Hunters Blog and asked him to give me a call. Dirk has been helping me out with the meteorite hunt and he really knows his stuff. I told Dirk about the email exchange I had with George and he told me that when my picture first surfaced it was immediately scrutinized. There were dozens of emails on the meteorite list with the subject “Astro Mike”. All of the hardcore meteorite dudes were debating whether or not my picture was really a meteor and not something else (like a plane). There were basically two camps: the believers and the doubters. Because the opinion was initially disputed the trajectory experts were not considering the data obtained from my picture at all. Dirk Ross was one of these meteor trajectory wizards and he plotted an impact zone days after the fall. Dirk with the help of Elton Jones and others plotted the trajectory estimate and impact zone using only the York Water meteor video and eye witness reports.

    Unfortunately no one listened to Dirk and instead they went with a ‘due east’ trajectory past York. This resulted in 100s of lost video recordings of the meteor. The city of Lancaster alone apparently recently installed a security system that has cameras on every street corner in the city (thanks for letting me know this M Gaines). Security video recordings are usually only saved for 7 days and then overwritten. The ground work to look for security cameras was focused in the York area. No security videos were ever recovered from Lancaster. No matter, two new videos did surface: Safe Harbor and the Pittsburgh fireball video.  The Pittsburgh video (also found by Dirk), shows 3 stars and the planet Jupiter. This stellar information in combination with my stellar picture and the York Water Fireball Video and Safe Harbor videos gave Rob Matson and Marc Fries abnormally good data for a fireball trajectory.

    Here is the kicker: Dirk Ross’s initial impact point is roughly 10 miles from the impact point Marc Fries and Rob Matson calculated using ALL of the video evidence. Dirk, that is pretty darn good.

    George thanks for doubting my picture. Looking at Dirk’s data makes me feel extra special confident about the location we are working in right now. I wouldn’t have run into this new data if we hadn’t had our email debate.

    Here are the Google Earth maps that show both Dirk Ross’s projection (using only York and eye witnesses) and Rob Matson/Marc Fries projection (using all available data).

    dirk1-sm

    Dirk Ross vs Rob Matson & Marc Fries (click to enlarge)

    dirk-2-sm

    Dirk Ross vs Rob Matson & Marc Fries (click to enlarge)

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    Aug.11 2009

    Meteor Dreams

    by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

    Ever since this meteor thing started I have been having dreams about meteors. They aren’t always the same dream, they seem to be different. I wake up and say wow that was a cool dream but I can never remember them. I can only remember one meteor dream I’ve had and that’s because I really thought it through and played it back in my head a few times right after I woke up. I’m running through a field with my wife and kids and there are giant meteors falling from the sky and hitting the ground all around us.  We are running to get away from being hit, I’m scared. I remember seeing a 6 foot tall meteor lying on the ground and thinking get me the hell out of here — I don’t want anything to do with that!

    I headed up to search zone orange after work tonight and a friend of mine sent me a text that said:

    I had a dream early this morning around 4:am. We found a piece of the meteor. All I can remember is it was near a fence just off a busy road. Crazy right?

    Needless to say I was looking at fences as I patrolled all the roads in the search area.

    Bird in Hand Search Zones

    Bird in Hand Search Zones

    I have cut up the entire search area into 5 zones: green, yellow, blue, orange and red. The areas are primarly based on public street boundaries and logical lines along the path of the meteor between the 10km and 5km altitudes. East of the trajectory line are zones that encompass areas suggested by Marc Fries to have meteorites of various sizes based on weight.  Smaller sized meteorites would have blown farther east while larger rocks would be closer to the trajectory line, but still east of it. I have included zones south and west of the lines as there is a margin of error in the data we have and it is important to cover areas on both sides of the trajectory to compensate for inaccuracies of the data provided. Marc and Rob stressed to me that these areas are estimates based on the data we have about this thing. They are not exact, but rather the best information we have to go on at this point in time. Special thanks to Marc Fries for developing the dark flight model. Marc I am in awe of your kung fu skillz.

    Currently the highest priority zones are red and orange. I will be posting more detailed annotated maps as soon as I have the time to put them together.

    10kg search area landmark

    10kg search area landmark

    I only had a couple of hours to search tonight so I went right to the orange zone where the largest rocks (if there are any) would most likely be found. Needless to say I didn’t find any, but I did have a great talk with the land owner and he let me search right there on the spot. He said I could come back as much as needed so long as I respected the land and stayed out of the crop areas. He said I could search those in 3 months when the harvest was completed.

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    Aug.09 2009

    Aug 8th 2009 Field Report – Bird In Hand

    by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

    Kaufmans Fruit Market - Meteorite Search Landmark

    Kaufmans Fruit Market - Meteorite Search Landmark

    Today was the first day I searched the area suggested by Rob Matson and Marc Fries. I drove up to Bird in Hand PA in the morning with my neighbor Mark Dodson. We met up with John Divelbiss, a fellow meteorite hunter from Redding PA who has been scoping out the area for a few days already. The target area is based on a 3D model of the meteor flight path that was created by Rob Matson and a strewn field map developed by Marc Fries. This is the first area suggested that takes into consideration data from all recorded evidence: the Pittsburgh video, the Safe Harbor video, the York Water video and my picture. Marc’s map was based on Rob’s initial data plus calculations for the initial velocity, drag, wind as well as meteorite type, size and weight.

    Farms off N Harvest Road

    Farms off N Harvest Road

    My primary objective was to make contact with as many land owners as possible. I prepared an information packet and made several copies. The map I am currently working with is pretty much a square area bordered by 4 main roads with 3-4 cross streets (the cross streets are really gravel roads). I made it to about 10-12 different properties (about 1/4 of the area) and talked to land owners at all of them. All of the people I talked to were Amish farmers. None of them had heard about the meteor. All of them were very interested in the story, excited that they might have meteorite rocks on their land and they were very agreeable to the idea of people searching the land once harvest was underway. All of the farmers said to check back with them in 2-3 weeks. The harvest goes in stages so different areas of land would open up at different times. Depending on the crop there is about a 2 week window after the harvest that is ideal for searching. After this period they till and fertilize the land which makes meteorite recovery much more difficult.

    Peach Orchard Below 10km Alititude Point

    Peach Orchard Below 10km Alititude Point

    I gave an information packet to all of the farmers I met today. This packet included:
    - a letter to land owners requesting permission to search their land
    - some meteorite informational articles I wrote up
    - 2 news paper articles about the meteor

    As I walked from farm to farm I looked every where I could for meteorites but didn’t find anything. While I was talking to the land owners, Mark and John walked the roads checking the ditches and grass by the side of the road. They knocked on a few different doors. A few people wouldn’t come to the door or talk to them, but they did talk to a few others that were very interested. One farmer let them search an alfalfa field that had just been cut. They didn’t find anything but they covered a lot of ground and got the word out with at least 10 different people in the community.

    It wasn't a meteor...

    It wasn't a meteor...

    In the afternoon we all went to an orchard that John had spotted a few days before and had been searching. The orchard was more or less open to the public and an easy and relaxing search. Most of the area under the trees was just dirt with no vegetation or grass. In between the tree rows was relatively low grass. It was a peach orchard and the rotting peaches on the ground turn black and really look like meteorites from a few feet away. I can’t tell you how many black rotten peaches I stepped on today. I did find one meteor-wrong that was a new one for me. This rock had a crust around it that looked like a fusion crust, but it wasn’t magnetic. I showed it to John and he agreed it was terrestrial. I chipped away at it with a knife which you also wouldn’t be able to do to a real meteorite.

    Bird in Hand Search Team

    Bird in Hand Search Team

    On the way out of town we drove around the area again to write down some addresses and take some notes. I’m planning on sending out a direct mail with our information packet to all of the residents in the target zone. I firmly believe in order to find these meteorites we will need the complete support of the community. These remnants will not be found by a single person it will take an army of people to eventually find them. That is why it is critical to get the word out to the community and the land owners, especially at this time. We need to search the land before it is re-tilled and fertilized for next season. Additionally autumn leaves on the ground will make searching that much harder. Time is of the essence, if we are going to find this thing we need to find it within the next 2-3 months.

    Marc Fries Says What?

    Marc Fries Says What?

    I talked to Rob Matson and Marc Fries tonight and asked them if it would be ok to publish their maps and models on my site. I told them I felt it was critical to get all of the information we have out to the public as finding this meteor would require a lot of foot soldiers on the ground. They agreed publishing the data was the best way to find the meteorites. Its 3AM in the morning now and it will take me some time to put the maps and information online. You can expect this in tomorrow’s update.

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